Brennan withdraws from consideration

BRENNAN WITHDRAWS FROM CONSIDERATION…. A number of bloggers — most notably Glenn Greenwald, Digby, and Andrew Sullivan — have raised serious concerns about intelligence official John Brennan, who’s been rumored to be a possible candidate for either the CIA director or the Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration.

Brennan’s critics accused him of supporting some of the Bush administration’s most offensive intelligence-gathering policies, including rendition and “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Obama, they said, even if he intended to move far away from those policies, should not make room for Brennan in his administration.

The criticism seems to have had the desired effect. Brennan has withdrawn from consideration for any intelligence post in the Obama administration.

Brennan wrote in a Nov. 25 letter to Obama that he did not want to be a distraction. His potential appointment has raised a firestorm in liberal blogs who associate him with the Bush administration’s interrogation, detention and rendition policies.

Brennan was a 25-year veteran of the CIA who helped establish the National Counterterrorism Center and was its first director in 2004.

Obama’s advisers had grown increasingly concerned in recent days over online blogs that accused Brennan of condoning harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects, including waterboarding, which critics call torture.

According to the AP report, Brennan opposed waterboarding, and told his CIA colleagues about his concerns privately, while also questioning the legality of several CIA interrogation methods. Indeed, Brennan emphasized that he was twice passed over for intelligence posts in the Bush administration precisely because the White House believed he was too critical of their policies.

In his letter to Obama, Brennan argued, “It has been immaterial to the critics that I have been a strong opponent of many of the policies of the Bush administration such as the pre-emptive war in Iraq and coercive interrogation tactics, to include waterboarding. The fact that I was not involved in the decisionmaking process for any of these controversial policies and actions has been ignored.”

In response, Glenn Greenwald highlighted Brennan’s “lengthy, empathic statements” that made clear he “defended ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ and rendition — grounds enough for making him unacceptable for any top intelligence post — to say nothing of his strident advocacy for warrantless eavesdropping and telecom amnesty.”

As for the broader context, Brennan’s withdrawal appears to be the direct result of blog coverage. For those who believe bloggers’ concerns are inconsequential, this is clear evidence to the contrary.